News & Politics

New York State Has Some Crazy Facial Recognition Database to Catch Crooks


At the pace surveillance technology is moving, we guess this should be expected.

On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo and Co. informed the public that Albany has been using advanced facial recognition methods for the past three years (the idea was originally brought up by then-Gov. Spitzer in 2008).

And, in that time, the State has dispatched more than 100 investigators to check out over 13,000 cases. As a result, 2,500 people on the terrorist watch lists or who were suspected of having criminal records have been arrested through the technology. Somehow, from those figures, state officials have bragged that the technology has a 94 percent success rate.

Also, don’t forget those conning welfare benefits or driving illegally without a license: “We are successfully taking dangerous drivers off our roads, helping to track down criminals, and protecting taxpayer dollars… sending a clear message that New York State does not tolerate identity fraud and those who try will be caught,” Cuomo told reporters.

Here’s how it works.

The process begins when you walk into a DMV. Once the DMV takes your picture, that image is shuffled through a database that holds over 20 million photo images from drivers’ licences and other government-issued IDs. If the computer finds a match between your face and a wanted criminal, well … you can do the math.

Or, in other cases, you can also get caught if you don’t match the person that also applied under your name. It could either end in a weird, Total Recall (the original, please) situation where your identity is lost in the ether or this can happen: One man was caught wearing a wig and lipstick to impersonate his dead wife so he could grab her Social Security benefits and pension. Yeah.

Keep this mind next time you’re trapped at the DMV. At least it’ll be more fun to think about this instead of searching around the room for someone to mentally hate on for a few minutes.

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